Thursday, February 21, 2013

Manus challenge goes to PNG Supreme Court

 Source: AAP
A legal challenge against the Australian-run detention centre on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island has been delayed, with the case sent to a higher court.
A legal challenge against the Australian-run detention centre on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island will go to the Supreme Court, after lawyers dropped lower circuit court proceedings.
The lawyer acting for PNG opposition leader Belden Namah told AAP on Wednesday he was blocked from meeting with detainees in defiance of a court order handed down last week.
"We seem to be getting bogged down in procedural matters so we will head to the Supreme Court," Mr Henao said.
"We will be filing that reference this week, in the next couple of days, and this matter will be back in court.
"We were denied access (to the centre) and we will be filing contempt proceedings against the officers of the government concerned."
Justice David Canning last week rejected Mr Henao's request for an interim injunction on any more asylum seekers being brought to Lombrum Naval base on Manus.
But he granted Mr Henao and his firm permission to visit the site and interview detainees.
Mr Henao has said he was ordered by his client to interview detainees to see if they wanted to join the legal challenge.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill on Tuesday denied there was any order given to stop Mr Henao's team from visiting the temporary tent facility, which is home to 274 asylum seekers, including 34 children.
"There is no direction from my office or anybody else about the lawyer trying to visit the premises in Manus," he told reporters on Tuesday.
The legal arguments for and against the facility, set up under a memorandum of understanding between PNG and Australia, depend on the interpretation of two different sections of the constitution.
Mr Namah's lawyers argue the site is illegal under PNG's constitution, while government lawyers say the migration laws give Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato the power to set up a processing facility.
AAP and PNG'S The Post Courier were denied access to the facility last November by security firm G4S and PNG immigration, who told reporters they were following orders from Canberra.
Australian officials had earlier directed all requests to access the site to PNG authorities.

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